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Senate Passes Virus Relief Bill, Plans for Bigger Stimulus


The U.S. Senate Wednesday afternoon voted to approve the House’s coronavirus response bill and promptly sent the measure to President Donald Trump for his approval.

Trump is expected to sign the legislation, called The Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

It includes free coronavirus testing, expanded family and medical leave for some, paid emergency sick leave for some, unemployment benefits, food assistance, and protections for health care workers.

The Senate passed the bill 90-8. Senators who voted against the bill are: Marsha Blackburn, Jim Inhofe, Ron Johnson, James Lankford, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Ben Sasse, and Tim Scott. Senators Cory Gardner and Rick Scott did not vote.

Lawmakers plan to follow up the response bill with an additional economic rescue package the Trump administration estimates will cost $1.3 trillion.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans hope to agree on a plan with the White House and discuss it with Democrats this week.

“I would recommend senators stay around, close,” McConnell said. Although he could not predict when a bill would be ready for a vote, he added, “we are moving rapidly because the situation demands it.”

The White House increased its request to Congress for an additional $1.3 trillion Wednesday, including $500 billion in direct payments to Americans, $50 billion in loans to the distressed airline sector, and $150 billion to “severely distressed sectors” of the economy from the pandemic.